When I announced that I was making my next literary project a transcription of an autobiographical novel written thirty years ago, I had in mind committing myself to sticking to something that might prove to be dull, boring, tiresome, even irritating. I had a big ring-binder full of A4, narrow-feint lined sheets, written in blue biro, that hadn’t been looked at, or even touched, for most of that thirty years.
I didn’t imagine how things would go. I figured I could push myself through one sheet – two sides of paper – per day: about 36 minutes at the laptop, averaging 750-850 words a day depending on how much was dialogue. I figured it would probably take me until June/July to complete.
What I didn’t anticipate, as I have written about previously, was getting caught up in the story, getting obsessed with it. As the weeks have gone by, I have become more and more obsessed with churning out pages, getting at the next chapter so I can pick up the next stage of the story, and find out what happens next.
Given the issues I am already grappling with, this has not been my wisest decision, as these I have already set out, here and here. I have been drawn back into this fictional world, to the extent that I have even begun to extend the story into the time that follows its conclusion, go over potential ‘what-happened-nexts’ for my central character, my first person narrator, my alternate self.
This morning, I added over another 2,000 words, bringing things up to the end of the penultimate chapter. This enabled me to release the final chapter from the binder, and to re-read how I ended it all. I now know what happened. Typing it up, I suspect, is going to feel rather like an anti-climax.
I feel a little empty at present. I am not entirely in 2017, nor have I been for some weeks, nor will I be for some time yet. I hope I can give myself a break, a little time off, once I have completed the final typescript. Then there will be the creation of a clean, publishable copy, all alternate sections decided between, inconsistencies resolved, gaps filled in (can you remember what songs would have been played in a City centre disco in November 1980?).
Once a copy is prepared, I’ll publish it privately through Lulu.com as I always intended, a bookshelf version to go with the manuscript, which will go back in its binder, never to be touched again.
And then the real work starts, as I go back to the beginning and start to collaborate with the Original Writer…